Music is malleable, something that is truly unique to each generation. The 90s had the golden age of hip-hop, boy bands, and grunge; the early 2000s and 2010s saw the emergence of EDM, hyper-pop, and a resurgence of pop-punk music. Now, in the 2020s Gen Z has taken a grip on the music industry, and it doesn’t look like they plan on letting go any time soon.
Gen Z inhabits a very complex universe. Born into a post 9/11 world, growing up through economic recessions, rampant gun violence, and a progressing Climate Crisis, nihilism is anything but scarce in this generation. However, Gen Z is also incredibly mindful of mental health, are passionate about activism, and are the most socially and politically progressive generation to date. Gen Z also has a unique relationship with the internet and social media, and are much more personal in these digital spaces. Due to all of these factors, the music coming from Gen Z is unlike any generation prior. Due to the sheer quantity of musicians on the rise, it can be hard to keep up. If you’re searching for the perfect musician to round out your Spotify playlists, here are six Gen Z artists that you should definitely listen to.
1. Joy Oladokun
Joy Oladokun is a singer/songwriter who signed to Well Records in 2016 and has released three albums: Carry, In Defense of My Own Happiness (The Beginnings), and In Defense of My Own Happiness. In addition to these albums, she has also released multiple singles. Oladokun’s music is a wonderful culmination of pop, R&B, and folk sounds that effortlessly blend together to create something wonderful.
2. Eliza McLamb
Eliza McLamb gained popularity from her Tik Tok that she started during the beginning of quarantine. She started publishing short songs based on comments on her videos, and she has only become more popular. Since August of 2020, McLamb has self-produced and released 3 singles and one EP, with her most recent single titled “Irish Exit.” Her music is a blend of alternative and indie vibes, and is incredibly raw and real.
3. Serena Isioma
The best way to describe Serena Isioma’s music is simply, “incredible vibes.” A blend of R&B, hip-hop, and lo-fi pop, with smooth and effortless vocals, Isioma's music is the kind that you just can’t help but move to. They first started releasing music in 2019 with their first single “Do I Make You Nervous.” Since then, they have released seven singles, an EP, and a full length album. However you might be most familiar with her 2020 single “Sensitive.”
4. Catie Turner
You may recognize this name from Season 15 of American Idol, where Turner auditioned with an original song called “21st Century Machine.” Since then, Turner has released more original music, including several singles and a full-length pop album. Her music covers topics such as mental health, relationships, and other personal struggles. It is painfully relatable and, at times, wonderfully heartbreaking.
Beatrice Laus, better known by her stage name Beabadoobee, has been releasing music since 2017. She is signed to the British independent label Dirty Hit, and has released five albums and multiple singles under them. Beabadoobee’s music is a culmination of bedroom pop, lo-fi, indie rock, and will fulfill your dream of being the main character in a coming of age movie.
6. Arlo Parks
Arlo Parks is a British singer/songwriter and is signed to Transgressive Records. In 2021 she released her debut album Collapsed in Sunbeams which quickly rose to be #3 on the UK charts. Her music is a beautiful blend of indie pop and R&B, and possesses an ethereal quality.
Written by: Alexa Rosenberger
Instagram: @lex.gabrielle_Twitter: @alexagabrie11e